Mitsubishi To Eclipse Yahoo! Home Page

On Wednesday, car company Mitsubishi will blanket Yahoo!'s home page with ads to kick off an online campaign for the 2006 Eclipse. The ads will tempt users with an inch-long Eclipse--shown from an overhead view--which they'll be urged to race around the page.

Omnicom Group's creative shop Organic is piloting the effort with the help of rich media provider Eyeblaster. (Atmosphere, the New York-based digital arm of Omnicom's BBDO North America, was involved in the initial brainstorming, said an Organic spokeswoman.)

Ray Atkin, group account director at the San Francisco-based Organic, said the shop had arranged previous takeovers of Yahoo!'s home page for several Sprint campaigns.

The flash-based campaign is intended to drive Yahoo! visitors to a branded racing interactive game, "Thrill Ride Challenge," where users can select from different car colors and race courses to drive. The top-scoring participant each week, as well as one randomly drawn, will win either a Mitsubishi flat-screen TV or an Apple iPod, through August 15.

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The game's micro-site has links to Mitsubishi's Web site, showcasing the Eclipse and encouraging potential buyers to "build" their own Eclipse, controlling colors and accessories, and then get a price quote. To coincide with the campaign, Organic overhauled the Mitsubishi site to reflect the branding of the campaign, Atkin said.

Mitsubishi hopes to generate some 20,000 leads for local dealerships through the campaign, which will also run on ESPN.com, MSN, and AOL Autos, among others, said Chris Marshall, marketing manager, Mitsubishi North America.

TV spots for the Eclipse began airing about two weeks ago, over a million direct mailings are scheduled, and a paid search marketing campaign will run throughout the summer, Marshall added.

This campaign will mark Mitsubishi's first big marketing push since officially parting ways with its prior agency, Deutsch, several months ago.

"This is an extremely important launch for us," said Marshall. "The whole effort is a complicated integration of a number of BBDO's different groups, and it will be critical that they can work together seamlessly." Marshall added that things were on track thus far.

Mitsubishi Motors North America formally named Omnicom Group's BBDO as its creative agency of record in March. This decision followed an intense, months-long review in which players such as Interpublic's TM and two Publicis divisions vied for the $200 million account.

Interpublic's Deutsch, which never officially contested the review, had a seven-year relationship with Mitsubishi that produced such buzz-generating campaigns as the 2004 Super Bowl "See What Happens" crossover spot.

The TV ad ended with a cliffhanger that directed viewers to a Web site where the "Galant" takes on a Toyota Camry in an "accident avoidance" test.

The ad boosted traffic to Mitsubishi's brand site by 200 percent above previous averages the day after the game, and drew 170,000 visitors to the site for the finale, according to comScore Media Metrix. Visitor traffic held at about 47,000 for days following the innovative stunt, comScore reported.

Organic's next project with Mitsubishi will be the fall launch of the Raider, a midsize truck, said Atkin.

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